The New Thought Leadership With Vickie Sullivan

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Spend some time with Vickie Sullivan, an expert turbulator and marketing strategist for thought leaders. She shares her tips and tricks to get your ideas out there in this chaotic environment. She’s smart, funny, and wise. Tune in to this savvy guide to the world of thought leadership and influence.

Here are Vickie’s Top Ten Tips and Tricks for the New Thought Leadership:

  1. It’s all chaos right now, so plan accordingly and use emotional reminders and lead marketing with an experience so your customers/audience can focus on discovery.
  2. The new thought leadership combines expert knowledge with being an influencer – labels and definitions cut throught the white noise.
  3. Establish a role in the conversation by defining it for yourself. Are you the navigator, advocate, best friend, expert, connector?
  4. You need a signature voice, not just a presentaiton style. You need to be likeable, more relaxed, and human.
  5. Look to the periphery, don’t stick in one lane.
  6. Fight the fatigue, find ways to recompose and renew, take a break.
  7. Have an approach for failure, how do you respond when things go bad?
  8. Set milestones and benchmarks to assess the journey and course correctwhen necessary.
  9. Always ask, is this the new normal, before reacting to a trend.
  10. Be less of an expert and more of a collaborator, people love collaboration.
  11. Bonus: People also love DIY, so give them the recipe.


About Vickie

Vickie Sullivan has launched thousands of thought leaders since 1987, specializing in differentiating in hyper-competitive markets. She is a popular speaker throughout the U.S. and Canada on how to stand out in crowded markets and strategies that position experts for lucrative opportunities. Her market intelligence updates are distributed to experts in the U.S. as well as 17 other countries.

Ms. Sullivan has served twice on the editorial board for Professional Speaker Magazine and currently serves as a contributing editor for, a prominent community of 120,000 professional service providers. Her articles have been published in publications such as Presentations, USA Today magazines, and the Handbook of Business Strategy. Ms. Sullivan also has been quoted in mainstream media such as, The New York Times and Investor’s Business Daily. Her work and views have appeared in books such as Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanney, Getting Started in Consulting by Alan Weiss and Mastering Work Less, Make More by Jennifer White.

Ms. Sullivan’s groundbreaking work has earned her an appointment on the Women’s Leadership Board for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. As a former member of the mentoring committee, she has given three presentations to the student body there on personal branding and prominence. She also served on the executive committee from 2009 to 2011 as communications chair.

Learn more about Vickie on LinkedIn and on her website. Be sure to check out her blog for more tips and tricks.


The New Thought Leadership

Rob Brodnick: Welcome to the Positive Turbulence Podcast, Stories from the Periphery. Here we journey to the edge to talk to Turbulators about their experiences creating positive change.

Karyn Zuidinga:  Hi, I’m Karyn Zuidinga, your co host for the podcast. With the advent of social media and big data, the lines between being a thought leader and an influencer have blurred.

That’s making it tough for innovators, the thought leaders, to get their ideas out there. It feels like shouting into the wind. Where once it was possible to relatively quickly engage and develop a community on social media, now the space seems to be taken up by bombastic, chaotic chatter. With all that negative turbulence, how do you find a way to stand out?

Rob Brodnick: Hi, I’m Rob Brodnick, and in this episode we’re going to spend some time with Vicki Sullivan, an expert turbulator and marketing strategist for Thought Leaders. It was a real treat to get Vicki’s insights into what she calls the New Thought Leadership. For innovators and turbulators finding a way to cut through the noise, it’s key, so stay tuned.

But first, quick word from our sponsor for this episode. This episode is brought to you by NextWaveInnovation. io, working with small and medium sized businesses to help them find growth opportunities through the creation of smart, effective apps. Learn more at nextwaveinnovation. io. We’d also like to thank Mac Avenue Music Group as a contributing sponsor.

To hear our theme and other great music, visit macavenue. com.

Karyn Zuidinga: Part of the reason why I wanted to talk to you, Vicki, is because you’ve got so much experience talking to so many different people. And, and a lot of them are Themselves innovators, right? Uh huh,

Vickie Sullivan: you know for us it will get there

Karyn Zuidinga: along the way the the idea of of Even just the idea of thought leadership.

How has that changed and grown

Vickie Sullivan: for you over the last 20 years? Right, right, and I have some trends that are creating I read chapter 13 of your book So you’re going to see some references in some of my comments So one of the things that I talk about is what is You know, I made a list here of what are some of the trends that are creating the turbulence, that are creating the unpredictability in an innovator’s world, you know, in the, in, in an innovative world of thought leadership.

You know, what is, what’s going on in that environment? What are the challenges based upon that turbulence and unpredictability? You know, where’s the un, what is the impact of the unpredictability? And then what’s working now? You know right now with all that turbulence and all that unpredictability What is working now?

How can innovators or thought leaders? How can they deal with it? So I see it as the trojan horse is thought leadership But it’s really about how do you get your ideas out there or stand out when there’s a lot of unpredictability out there And how do you tell us more? The first thing that you have to understand about the positive turbulence and the, and really the unpredictability out there is that thought leadership has become commoditized.

Mm hmm. And so everybody says they’re a thought leader. There are no standard qualifications for being a thought leader, although I think that may change, but it’s commoditized. How so? How do you think that’s going to change? I think analytics is going to come in and start and play a major role in the definition And I think it’s going to be defined by your community not by what you know.

I love that And it’s going to be all right. So here’s what I see happening Interesting. Okay. So, people are judging people’s influence not by the insights that they have or the innovations that they’ve made, but by how many people like them and how many Twitter followers and that kind of thing. And you see that being monetized now.

I read this article that it, in fact, blew me away so much it inspired a blog post. You got two year olds being branded as influencers. And they’re getting yo two years old now tell me what a two year old knows, please Okay, please what yeah blew my mind, too So they’re either cute or quirky, but

Rob Brodnick: you know, they’re not they’re not going to be uh thought leaders by a traditional definition

Vickie Sullivan: Exactly, but so so what you’re seeing is you’re seeing thought leadership being morphed into influencers Yes, right.

And so so that’s really where thought leadership is going is Is to make that journey from a thought leader to an influencer and when you’re an influencer, you don’t have to know jack All right, let’s get let’s get real two years old getting five figures for a real cute photo Okay, you got mike the situation now This is an old example to stay with me mike the situation of the jersey shore fame making five million dollars in appearance fees Now tell me what he knows besides how to party.

Okay, so Yeah, that’s where So thought leadership is going to start blurring into the influence market And influence has now become monetized Now that’s a game changer. That’s you want to talk about unpredictability and positive turbulence We have seen this the dark side of that. Thank you kardashians Okay, you know you have to release the sex tape in order to get the initial attention You know, I wouldn’t call that like, you know, Miley Cyrus to get the attention and that’s all because People don’t know what to do with the unpredictability So what happens that I see is when things become unpredictable That kind of invites the dark side initially Okay.

And so, yeah, this is, so far, this is feeling like a lot of negative turbulence. I’m sorry. You know, I didn’t mean mean. That’s okay. No, I didn’t mean to do this. No, no, but here’s the understand, but here’s the positive. The positive is it’s just a different challenge. I mean, it is what it is, but you can still navigate in a fabulous way.

Okay, you just gotta acknowledge what else is going out there and here’s the thing if you can understand why something’s working You can flip that negative to a positive in a heartbeat That’s the thing people are going to the negative because they know it works, but they don’t know why it works If you understand why something works you can flip the script and do something positive and that’s the only reason why Things are negative because it’s in the beginning stages When you have the beginning stages, and I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here, when you have a beginning stage of unpredictability, it’s chaos.

And when chaos happens in the initial stages, people will do anything to get what they need. And if it’s bad attention, they don’t care because it’s still attention.

Rob Brodnick: Right. Yeah. There’s a lot of examples of that right now. Yeah. In our

Vickie Sullivan: face. But that’s okay because it’s not going to stay that way. Can you give an example

Rob Brodnick: of that flip, uh, either from your own, uh, own experience, uh, a story you could tell or an example that’s hypothetical, but, but drawn on some facts, uh, just, just to help our listeners, uh, unpack what you’re saying.

Vickie Sullivan: Sure. Me Too movement. Okay, check this out. All right, so the Me Too movement got attention with a very innocuous but aspirational message. You are not alone. When you look at the beginning of the Me Too movement, that’s all they said. Mm hmm me too. You’re not alone. You’re not alone. So here’s all this bad behavior going on out there And people getting away with it.

I mean look at R. Kelly You know Getting away with it for decades But what they did to flip the script is they didn’t meet it head on they tapped into an emotional need of the other side which is They were isolated, and that’s all they did in the beginning. And that’s what made it go viral without a lot of opposition, because who can argue with people knowing they’re not alone?

I mean, how can you argue with that? How can you say it’s bad to know that you’re not alone? Okay, but what happened is, that was the Trojan horse. So, I tell innovators in the thought leadership space is, do you need a Trojan horse? You need a message That is so pleasing and innocuous that you’re going to reduce the opposition to it And once you’re in there, you can expand upon it See a lot of thought leaders want to go for broke in the beginning And i’m like when there’s chaos You got to look for the side door Because in chaos a lot of doors are opening and shutting so quickly The front door is not always open anymore.

It’s bolted shut for whatever reason go to the side Go through the back door, open a window. That’s what Trojan horses do. Does that make sense? Oh yeah. Yeah. So I’m building Trojan horses on a pretty regular basis. That’s what you do in chaos. So, I

Rob Brodnick: imagine you use turbulence to your advantage, maybe as a tool, as a weapon, as a secret weapon, whatever it may

Vickie Sullivan: be.

All day, every day, baby. All day, every day. Talk about

Rob Brodnick: the Trojan horse as one example. What are some of your other turbulence techniques that you’ve used to create

Vickie Sullivan: positive change? Well, what I see that’s working now is what I call emotional reminders. Okay? This is what I love about what’s going on now.

Is There used to be this pressure to create something new And innovation was defined as something new that no one has ever heard of before But what’s happening now, which I absolutely love because there’s more room to play is emotional reminders Again, the me too movement did a great job with that. It was an emotional reminder that you’re not alone Right.

So What I see out there that’s working now that’s cutting through the white noise, which is the biggest challenge You know innovators and thought leadership Have is that they can’t just bring trot out a new idea. That’s not going to work anymore Too many people have megaphones. So what cuts through the white noise?

Right now it’s emotional reminders. You see this all the time in advertising to your question You know, one of the things I look at is labels and definitions That’s the areas to play with right now. How do you label something? How do you define it that cuts through the white noise? So there’s tools of the trade.

So I’m giving you my super secret tools of the trade. How you define something, because that can be a moving target, how you label something is the anchor. So I think you have a really interesting

Karyn Zuidinga: sort of ringside view to what’s going on right now. This sort of backs my earlier point. There’s a lot of negativity out there, right?

There’s a lot of negative turbulence. There’s a lot of, uh, a lot of uncertainty.

Vickie Sullivan: What kind

Karyn Zuidinga: of… I mean, you know stepping away from me too for a minute What kind of other bits of positive turbulence have you observed out there like in the industry that

Vickie Sullivan: speak to a coming change? Wow, well dang Where to begin?

I you know that that’s a great question. I think that there’s some movements out there And in thought leadership and innovation going back to the emotional And reminders that we get we forget stuff when we’re confused And so I see Airbnb’s campaign about being kind to one another you know, it’s it’s so a key strategic question you can ask yourself is what do we What do we forget in the chaos?

Mm hmm. What do we forget in the chaos and those emotional reminders can cut through the white noise. So Airbnbs let’s be kind to each other is a is a great ad campaign The dove, I love the dove soap campaign, you know, their, their latest campaign is, you know, they’re, they were the folks that showed the time lapse photoshop of how some of how a female model looked and then how they made her look different.

You know what the new and so called new and improved. Well, they did an experiment which was really interesting They had people draw themselves. Okay, and then they showed that to strangers They showed that drawing to strangers and what the strangers saw Versus what the artist saw when they were drawing themselves A self portrait.

Wow That was powerful and it was a an emotional reminder That we are all beautiful. Mm hmm Now let’s look at how that happened Okay in this chaotic space what breaks through the white noise Is not just the emotional reminder, but it’s how you convey it Yeah, and we are now demonstrating that through experiences and story So in that particular situation when dove Dove did this and by the way their soap sales increased 13.

That’s huge In that marketplace. Yeah, so it had an impact it had a big impact, right? So what they did Is they didn’t tell a story they created an experience and that’s what’s going to happen moving forward That’s what I see happening beyond stories Is is you create the experience so they didn’t tell a story they kind of did but what they led with Was the experiment the experience?

And what that allows people to do is to discover, and that’s what innovators, I think, of all stripes need to think about, is what do you want people to discover? How can we influence the discovery? Mm hmm. This feels very, go ahead. You let people in, when you influence the discovery, that’s how you cut through the white noise that’s out there.

That’s how you cut through when everybody else is telling stories. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. This feels very… Very millennial friendly in a way too, right?

Karyn Zuidinga: Because that that generation is really into discovered and you don’t want to be led by the nose and why should they?

Vickie Sullivan: Oh, yeah. I mean, let’s get let’s get real millennials are the 500 pound gorilla now.

It’s not the boomers And i’ve told my boomer friends. I said y’all need to buckle up We all need to buckle up here because here’s why We used to be the change agent now. We are going to be the recipient Of the change and this is a very different role. Okay. This is why you see a bunch of angry people At least in the u.

s. During our last election cycle They were the recipient of change and they’re like, hey, i’m used to robbing this train. You know what now i’m a recipient What’s going on i’m not running this You know, right. So yeah, millennials change everything they’re changing that you want to talk about Positive turbulence and this is what’s so great about it, right?

Their unpredictability Is rooted in good intent. Yeah, see that’s what’s so beautiful about it You know, we have not raised a generation of monsters. Yay us You know, I mean, it kind of looks like it, you know, you know, we have raised a generation to believe that, you know, be kind, but don’t take any BS, you know, yeah, we’ve raised a generation to believe that they can be anything.

Well, guess what? They’re going to give a shot. Yeah. How can we blame them? I’d like to go back to

Rob Brodnick: the criteria you started to talk about for the new thought leadership and my first takeaway. Was one of the new criteria is it’s traditional expert knowledge Plus being an influencer and those two things create kind of a recipe That’s one of the qualities of the new thought leadership Could could you share with us two or three more of those qualities of the new thought leadership that that are on

Vickie Sullivan: your mind?

Yeah, you got this step. First off, you need to establish a role in the conversation. Okay, it’s not enough to have a great idea What’s your role? Are you a navigator? Are you helping people navigate uncharted territory? Are you an advocate? What are you? Oprah was really one of my favorite examples because she built such a big empire on this She never said that she was an expert on everything She was just the curious and wise neighbor lady that you had over for coffee Mm hmm, right and you have to understand that in that environment and i’m dating myself here say with me Yes, i’m that old people is that when she started she was an outlier that role was innovative because Everybody else was hard charging news people.

Yeah, right. Yeah. Okay. So so now so so yeah It has long roots or or big roots, but it’s coming to fruition now You got to be the role in the conversation from my view. You don’t need a presentation style You need a signature voice And there’s a big difference tell us how what does that mean? Okay a signature voice Is a way of conveying things That help you stand out when everybody else has the same idea Okay, and I think oprah is a great example of that She is so wise You know, and, and you never know what she’s going to say, but you’re looking forward to saying it.

Okay. We have some people that are known for telling, speaking the truth to power. They pull no punches, but they’re not disrespectful. One of the many positive things that I see out there is being obnoxious is becoming passe. Oh, thank you. Thank you, baby. Jesus, right? He did that fed Yeah, I mean it used to be you had to be you know, rowdy I mean you had to be rude and now that’s just and thank you to the millennials People just look askance and roll their eyes and move on Okay, now likability is is a is a great thing.

You got to be warm and approachable You got to be relaxed and confident So what I think a lot of thought leaders have done is they have honed Their style, but what’s changing the turbulence is we’re now looking at more relaxed settings Yeah, so polish is now having a blowback Right. So you can’t be you can be you need to be warm and you need to be professional But you can’t be too slick because we’re now going to a more A more relaxed environment, you know, I think I see

Rob Brodnick: this this turbulence hitting the financial industry, particularly with finance, bankers and all that, because you know, they had one of the most polished styles that there was out there and it’s threatening them.

And I actually, I see them kind of scrambling right now for what are we, who are we, how do we present ourselves? Because people aren’t buying what was being sold on Wall Street and other places. Oh,

Vickie Sullivan: exactly. I mean, they got to show that they care. Which is hard for some of them, you know, it is I mean, you know, so Yeah, they gotta show that they care And and they have to they have to create a counterbalance to past actions, you know They they have to create a counterbalance to past actions Which other industries do you

Rob Brodnick: see that this, this new approach is, is kind of really upsetting their, their sort of reasoned debtor for many, many

Vickie Sullivan: years?

Well, it’s whoever’s considered an enemy. You know, financial services is considered an enemy. I think technology is starting to be feared a little bit. So I see them Going to have some positive turbulence. They need to let people know Hey, we’re really not evil as we collect all your data and sell them to marketers, you know We’re not really trying to be mean while we do this, you know, I think I have a big gap to close though Exactly.

So so a long answer to your short question is yeah technology This is the turbulence when people wake up and realize Hey We’re on the menu Yeah, we’re on the menu here wow, we didn’t know that while I was posting those cat videos

So so anytime that there’s a new development The villain kind of switches So what used to be a good thing is now something to be questioned or feared another group at least here in the u. s politicians Oh Lordy lord, you know What do you say? Yeah

Rob Brodnick: Somewhere recently I saw the new congress, uh in in washington dc.

They had a picture of the Democratic side the republican side and Did you see that one? Okay, what a dramatic

Vickie Sullivan: difference. Yeah, that’s You know? The Republican

Rob Brodnick: side were a bunch of old white guys with white shirts and red ties and either blue or gray jackets. And the Democratic side looked like, you know, the people of the United States.

Yep. And what, what dramatic, uh, uh, you know, differences there and

Vickie Sullivan: polarities there. Now see, that is a great example of an experience. Look at that for a second. You don’t have to say anything. Right, you don’t even have to add color commentary show the photos and let people decide for themselves That is a millennial thing and that’s going to stick around for a while Are you a small

Karyn Zuidinga: or medium sized business thinking about building an app to help your business grow?

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Rob Brodnick: Push this question a little further. I’ve got, I’ve got, I’m making some notes here. I’ve got the new thought leadership, be an influencer, establish a role in the conversation, a humanized signature voice. Is there a fourth and fifth, if you don’t mind

Vickie Sullivan: me asking? Yeah, let’s rock on. Okay to your point. I love this part in your book to your point.

Look at the peripheral People don’t do that. Yeah, I love that They have a tendency innovators have a tendency and they say they don’t but let me tell you something they do Okay, they stick in one lane They’re not taking advantage of the blurring of the lines Okay, and this is where we’re at from an environment standpoint is lines are being blurred all over the place I mean, let’s look at gender sexual identification talk about blurring lines, you know work life balance blurred lines You know And everything is very fluid right now.

So what used to happen is thought leaders would Stay in their lane and even I do that to a certain extent, right? I’ll say hey do not speak to me about Your speaking style i’m not a humorist as we’ve seen right i’m not a humorist You need to go somewhere else. Okay, you want a website then do not speak to me You know not my gig right I say that a lot not my gig But that sometimes is a little wrong in that with the lines blurring That’s not necessarily the best thing.

What we have is a lot of thought leaders and innovators, they run around with their hammers looking for new nails. And I’m telling folks to stop doing that. Take advantage of the blurred lines. Where can your, by looking at the peripheral, where can you play? How can you apply your brilliance? That’s really what this is, what this is.

You know, and another thing that I see is fight and again your book says this fight the fatigue You know, I mean you gotta You know, you can’t You can’t go 90 miles an hour forever, you know in my childhood. My dad said this to me all the time slow down to about 90 You know, I mean all the time. I mean, that’s the Story of my life.

So you have to You have to renew yourself, you know burnout helps. No one another thing that I I see missing that I think Influencers need to do is you need to have and this sounds dark stay with me have an approach for failure Okay, because this is we live in a non linear world Okay, this is not going to be a journey where you have one success after another please ain’t happening Okay, let’s detach from that.

That’s not going to happen. What will help you kind of cushion the blow is have an approach. Have an approach for failure. There is no such thing as a success only journey. Okay, so what happens? Whoa, wait a minute. What?

Newsflash! Okay, there is no such thing as a success only journey. There’s only the up right? No, no. Here’s what I see, you know, i’m gonna rant about this and get off. I see the hockey stick Okay, I don’t see a stair step. I see a hockey stick. Here’s what I see I see people putting in the effort putting in the effort and it’s and the results are plateauing, right?

It’s like you can’t see you’re like what is going on? I just don’t understand and blah blah blah and then all of a sudden something happens and you shoot straight up That’s what I tell my clients to expect right I said there’s going to be times when you’re going to be plugging away Nothing’s happening and you’re like man.

Did I make a wrong turn somewhere and just don’t know and then all of a sudden boom Something happens and you’re going straight up Yeah, and I think I

Karyn Zuidinga: distracted you because this is not how do you respond when things go bad? How do you respond when things go

Vickie Sullivan: bad? What what kind of strategies are there?

What do I do or what do I tell my clients to do? Well, there is some correlation

Rob Brodnick: between the two things I hope

Vickie Sullivan: No, not necessarily. Okay. I’m kind of a do as I say, don’t do as I do girl, but okay. What, what I do when, and I had this several years back, I had, I had worked very hard for six months on something that just wasn’t working out.

Okay, it was during a time in my personal life when other things weren’t working out. So, I had three or four things happening together. Three or four sources of turbulence coming together at the same time. And what worked for me was to detach. Okay, so I do tell my clients you got to detach. Okay, this is going to happen when it happens.

If you get detached to a timeline, you’re dead. Okay You’re going to start making up stories your dad. So I do Do that with with clients and I do that as well the second thing that I do that I do not recommend all the time is Go crawl under a rock. Okay, go crawl under a rock and gaze at your navel. All right, I go to a spa All right so i’m a spa girl and i’m like, you know what I need to just Have a facial and a massage and then things are going to look better to me after that So I would tell clients what can you do to change your story?

Is it a day at the spa? Is it a day reading a book? Is it a day binge watching your favorite tv show? What is it? Okay, so Crawling under a rock is not always recommended But that’s what I do sometimes and no one knows when I do it because what’s great is when you fly under the the radar You’re not missed right You know, nobody knows You know, I had a friend of mine say one time they said because I was telling them I was off my game at one point because a very good friend of mine passed away and I was like, you know I just feel like i’m off my game and she said honey.

Nobody will know that You off your game is everybody else on their game So no worries, you know You can go to lunch with a friend and be off your game. Nobody will notice So it it you know, you just again it goes back to I think fighting the fatigue and renewing yourself And having an approach for failure now me being a systems person.

I have milestones and benchmarks So one of the things I did on my failed experiment is I gave it a timeline Okay, I said i’m gonna go Pedal to the metal for six months and I don’t care what happens So I detached I said I don’t care what happens i’m going for six months and then i’m gonna stop And assess and what I realized when I stopped and assessed at six months is I signed up for stuff.

I wasn’t gonna do What does that mean what I learned is I was on this particular speaker circuit, right? And and I show up at a lot of places in order to attract new opportunities And I underestimated the hustle factor of getting those free opportunities And I underestimated the hustle factor during those opportunities To get the kind of clients I wanted So I didn’t sign up to work that hard.

I mean, let’s get real You know, I didn’t sign up to be on the phone constantly hustling for free stuff. I mean, I give enough free stuff away, I’m not looking to give away more free stuff. I mean, no. So, I didn’t realize that I signed up for that. Mm hmm, you know until I got in it and that’s the thing is you don’t the thing about turbulence Is you don’t know until you get in it, right?

So you really have to You you come in with your assumptions, but you have to remember they’re only assumptions And you really have to constantly for me. I tell clients Constantly stick your finger up in the wind and say which way is the wind blowing? And if you’re clear on what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do You know, then you’ll be okay and I was not willing to hustle that hard Yeah, you know i’m used to showing up, you know loaded for bear and i’ll let the chips fall where they may And that’s what’s worked for me and i’m still willing to do that.

You know, i’m still willing to prepare I’m still willing to do a good job You know, I spoke at harvard about a year ago and it was murphy’s law, you know I mean everything that could go wrong went wrong You know, I mean I had to kick people out of the classroom. I mean it was crazy, you know, but it all worked out You know, I was a I I told my family I said I would the good news is I was a smash hit The interesting news is it was a miracle You know Not through my effort, you know, it was just a miracle You know with everything that went on so I I can imagine that there are Listeners

Karyn Zuidinga: out there who are in the middle of some project some innovation that they’re working away at And they’re they’re hearing you and they’re thinking themselves.

Okay. So what kind of signals? Should I be looking for because I

Vickie Sullivan: know so many who who go well past their due date, you know Well,

Karyn Zuidinga: that’s our best before date like they’re right, but they haven’t begun to pivot They haven’t even thought about how to change this They haven’t they won’t even let themselves think about letting it go and then even if they are Finding that deciding what

Vickie Sullivan: the signals are that they should

Karyn Zuidinga: listen to are

Vickie Sullivan: it’s very difficult, right?

Right. It’s called beating a dead horse I’ve done that a lot of times You know, uh, i’ve done that, you know guilty as charged. Yeah, and I and here’s what happens with me Is if I as a systems person, right once I settle in on a system that worked There’s got to be a lot happening for me to understand that that system no longer works And I had this happen because you know when you’re in business for you know, 30 years plus yes We were not enforcing child labor laws when I started You know, you see a bunch of stuff and you see your role in it and I was in a situation about 15 years ago 10 15 years ago Where I saw the writing on the wall and You have to walk away You and I think what keeps people from walking away Is they make assumptions about the present and the future based upon the past?

So one question I ask myself define those signals is What’s going on right now? And two is this the new normal or is this just a passing one off? And that second question is important. Yeah, if this is a new normal like I saw in my situation I was on a again another speaker circuit and I saw how they were promoting the thing And I remember saying to myself this is not sustainable This is on the downhill slide I need to get out.

I’m not going to ride the horse till it dies It’s it’s sick get off, you know And I did and it was hard because a a good portion a significant portion of my business was based on that Yeah, but i’ve i’ve walked away Four times in my business life and i’ve noticed it gets easier every time You know one time the first time I had to walk away is I had to let go of an entire division, right?

My husband the engineer was so good. He’s so supportive about stuff like this and he looked at me goes Well, what would you do with the time? You know, you would have all this extra time on your hands if you dropped this division that was like, you know 60 to 75 percent of your business. What would you do?

And I said Oh, I would do this and I just peeled off 10 or 15 things And he looked at me and had this little smile on his face. He goes Then go do that And i’m like again cocking the head like a german shepherd i’m like You know Okay and so And so when you so you just have to look at the writing on the wall And in that particular case, it was a call from a client You know, it was called from a strategy client And it was a year after I worked with them and they said, you know We just wanted to call and let you know what happened during this year And again, I went to the dark side in my head.

I’m like, oh my god something burst into flames. I gotta fix it What happened now, you know, and they’re like Well, you know, we did what you said. It was really hard because it was very different than what you What we wanted to do, but we took your advice and we just went with it and you know We generated eight nine hundred thousand dollars in new business And i’m like what I mean, you know, I fell out of my chair And I didn’t know I could do that good.

And so I realized so sometimes we have an event Okay, we have something that happens and you got to pay attention to that as a clue and what I realized after that conversation is that the Is that the division that I had built for for 15 years was really a security blanket Yeah, and the security blanket was going to hold me back until I let go And that conversation helped me understand that it was okay to let go That I could still create value.

I could still be an advocate for thought leaders I can still be what I wanted to be. I just didn’t need the security blanket How do you get over the fear? There’s, there’s, there are a lot of us like in, in businesses, there’s a lot of times when

Karyn Zuidinga: there are things that look

Vickie Sullivan: like they’re good things, right?

Giant pieces of our

Karyn Zuidinga: business or whatever, but that are preventing

Vickie Sullivan: us from, from growing, preventing

Karyn Zuidinga: us from innovating, preventing us from trying new things. And, and, you know, organizations both Small and large have that same

Vickie Sullivan: problem. How do you how do you coach your

Karyn Zuidinga: your clients in in Dealing

Vickie Sullivan: with that fear because it’s it’s scary to decide that you’re gonna let go of something big Well what we do and again because i’m a little too anal sometimes is we look at the upside We say okay You have to show them an alternative universe And say okay.

So if you let go of this Are you really going to get hit by a train here? I mean just how true is that statement? What else could happen, you know? Here’s what and I I go from a market analysis approach. I’ll say here are the factors that are wins in your sale Okay It’s not going to make it a slam dunk.

It makes it easier Okay, it increases the probability so i’ll have a probability discussion with them now some people and i’m guilty of this I’m, kind of like a stair stepper. I don’t jump in with both feet. I do things incrementally So if I find that my client’s an incremental person like me i’ll say why don’t you just conduct a pilot program?

Why don’t you do something small give your clients options so they can always opt out of the new thing if they don’t want to do It and see what happens, you know, and just so I have a lot of let’s just see what happens Might surprise yourself. So one of the things I did in my business and i’m you know You wanted me to use myself as an example.

I can I can talk about this now is years ago I used to believe, you know, because I was such a control freak that I wanted to handle all the details It’s like I wanted to see the raw data from the marketplace. I wanted to see the buyer behavior I want to see all of it don’t touch nothing Just let me do it all by myself and then I will present you the findings and if you don’t like them, that’s fine We’ll adjust okay Well, what’s happening now when I stuck my finger in the air is people want to collaborate.

Yes All right, they don’t want me to run off into my bat cave and figure stuff out and come back to them Mm hmm. So I had to let go Of that process which was my security blanket because then I knew it was right You know because it’s like, you know, people are betting the farm here. This has got to be right It’s got to be perfect and it can’t be perfect unless i’m doing it because if you could do it, you’d done it by now Right.

So I had to learn how to collaborate and what I learned through that journey was astounding. Mm-hmm. , I learned two things. Number one, people love it when you collaborate. ’cause I had a client say this to me once. The reason why I love collaborating with you is I get the good ideas faster. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm.

and I’m. Well, who knew that? You know, right. And I’m like, oh, I never thought about that. It never occurred to me that I was giving better ideas faster. Who knew? Okay. And then. The next thing that happened is In my heart, I love to educate. I love talking about how the sausage is made So people can learn and make the sausage for themselves, right?

Being a systems person i’ll give them the the elements to the the ingredients to the recipe and here’s what you do now and blah blah blah blah blah blah People love that stuff. Mm hmm. Yeah, there’s a lot of diyers out there. They want to do it themselves I had one client that says I want to understand the business I’m, like well I can do that and here’s the big secret for me It’s all in my head anyway, because i’ve been doing it for 30 some odd years.

This has fallen off a log easy so I had to really Have a chat with myself and said look just because something is easy Doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Yeah, it’s valuable to them just because it’s easy to you doesn’t mean it’s easy for them It’s valuable to them because it’s not easy for them. It’s easy for you because you’ve had too much practice You’ve been honing it for 30 some odd years.

Rob Brodnick: What are the things that? Turbulence is a function of of difference and right we have when things are the same or repeating We tend to have a steady state system and there’s not a lot changing. There’s not a lot happening And so how can we use novelty to create turbulence and to create change or use it to give us insight that we hadn’t had before?

Vickie Sullivan: Sure, what I love about novelty is that it’s really a function of faith You have to have faith that what’s coming around the corner is going to be great and It’s hard to let go if you don’t have that faith So what novelty teaches us in my opinion is it allows us to work our faith muscle? It allows us to experience That yeah, nobody’s gonna die, you know if I let go of this It’s not a permanent thing, you know, and in the in our journey Through turbulence, sometimes it feels like things are permanent.

I have a family member going through a tough time and I said I’ve gone i’ve gone down this road and I promise you this is not permanent It feels permanent. It feels disjointed. It’s not permanent. And so what novelty does His novelty allows us to flex our faith muscle. It also allows Us to have a creative outlet Novelty allows us to dream a little and say okay based on this novelty thing right here How can I play?

How can I how can I contribute? And it’s a low risk environment sometimes when you seek novelty because Nobody knows nothing yet, right? I tell people all the time. There’s a big difference between dreaming and doing okay Novelty lets us dream and then if we want to do a systematic Approach to doing then we can do that.

But novelty Novelty sparks that curiosity and lets us dream. It also Helps us practice faith Because what you learn time and time again from novelty this is novelty has been my biggest teacher here Is that what comes around the corner can be just as cool or even cooler than what you have right now Mm hmm.

It can be it’s not all bad Such wisdom

Karyn Zuidinga: today Vicki. I really want to thank you for that And I want to remind listeners that Vicki’s website Vicki Sullivan comm so that’s VI CK

Vickie Sullivan: ie Sullivan. com is

Karyn Zuidinga: loaded actually with great tips and tricks for people looking for ideas for how to Get

Vickie Sullivan: their message out in the world and to market their Their innovation.

Thank you. Thank you for mentioning that uh, karen, I mean, I If you want to see me rant go on over there. I mean, you know I’m ranting like You know i’m unleashed right so there’s nothing stopping me and you know, except for just good manners and uh, we I think we I did a post the other day about how to neutralize a copycat, you know That got kind of rowdy, you know I think I got another another one coming up how to use outrage to your advantage, you know, I mean There’s all sorts of silliness up in there

Karyn Zuidinga: Thank you so much for your time today, Vicki.

I really, really, really, really appreciate it.

Vickie Sullivan: Yeah. This has been like, this

Rob Brodnick: went by in like eight seconds. I know.

Vickie Sullivan: Isn’t it crazy? I love it.

Rob Brodnick: If you’re a small or medium sized business and are looking for that bump to get you over the hump, check out next wave innovation. io. They are masters at learning who you are, crafting smart, effective apps, and helping your business grow. That’s NextWaveInnovation. io.

Karyn Zuidinga: Thank you to AMI, podcast, is the source of so many of our guests, and of course, the founder, Stan Griskevich, is also the author of the original book, and dare I say, the trailblazer of positive

Vickie Sullivan: turbulence.

Rob Brodnick: AMI is a pioneering nonprofit organization comprised of committed individuals. who foster and leverage creativity and innovation in organizations and society.

AMI identifies leading edge innovation, shares experiences, sponsors research, and recognizes innovation and creative processes. Find out more at aminnovation. org. And a big thank you to Mack Avenue Music Group, our contributing sponsor, for providing our podcast soundtrack, Late Night Sunrise.

Vickie Sullivan: If

Karyn Zuidinga: you want to find out more about your hosts, Positive Turbulence, our guests, or check out our very cool and very diverse reading list, head over to PositiveTurbulence.

com. Until next time, keep the turbulence positive.